In a letter addressed to the Department of Defense Acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell, Sens. Mark Warner and Jack Reed have requested that the acting inspector general “investigate the process for the recent selection” of the newly selected General Counsel to the National Security Agency (NSA).
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Trump political appointee Michael Ellis has been named to an important career position. Congress should investigate the suspicious circumstances of the selection, and the Biden transition should think carefully about what to do on Jan. 20.
Just before John Brennan ended his term as director of the CIA in 2017, his agency issued a new set of guidelines under Executive Order (EO) 12333, the general charter that governs the intelligence community. Entitled “Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Activities: Procedures Approved by the Attorney General Pursuant to Executive Order 12333,” the guidelines received little attention.
It’s been known since 2012 that a Baltimore-based company called Cyber Point had a contract with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to assist its newly-established signals intelligence agency (then called the National Electronic Security Authority) with “advice on cyberdefense and policy,” as Ellen Nakashima reported at the time for the Washington Post.
U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) is the U.S. armed forces command charged with offensive and defensive cyber operations. Since 2010, it has coexisted with NSA as two organizations under one director. It is simultaneously embedded within U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), a functional (i.e., non-geographic) command with broader responsibility for detecting and deterring strategic attacks against the United States. Both arrangements are likely coming to an end in the near future.
The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing today starting at 10am on the renewal of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Earlier in 2016, Lawfare, in conjunction with the Hoover Institution’s National Security Working Group, produced a number of papers on the subject. Lawfare readers may be interested in reviewing them in connection with today’s hearing:
On February 8th, six months after his arrest for stealing classified information, a federal grand jury in the District of Maryland indicted former NSA contractor Harold Thomas Martin III, 52, according to the Justice Department’s press release.
On Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted Harold ("Hal") Thomas Martin III, a former private contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton, of willful retention of national security information. The 20-count indictment describes his unauthorized retention of documents belonging to the National Security Agency, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. Cyber Command, and the National Reconnaissance Office; the theft took place over a period as early as 1996 until August 27, 2016.
Late Friday, word came out of NSA that the highly-respected Deputy Director Rick Ledgett would be retiring in the spring. Understandably, people wondered whether this was the first indication of trouble out of the intelligence community under President Trump. Was this a sign that principled career officials were resigning in protest; were they being pushed out in favor of political allies of the White House?